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What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness, develops when excess pressure within the eye begins to damage the optic nerve, your eye’s visual lifeline to the brain.
Without regular eye exams, glaucoma can go undetected for a long time. The more advanced it becomes, the greater the threat to your vision.
Glaucoma can strike at any age, although the risk increases as you grow older. Elevated eye pressure can occur without symptoms, and is as dangerous to your eyes as hypertension is to your organs.
The team of doctors at Mittleman Eye is trained to catch signs of glaucoma early, before the disease can claim any of your precious vision.
Glaucoma and Your Optic Nerve
Glaucoma is a group of conditions that damage the optic nerve, which transmits information from your eye to your brain. When it does not function properly, permanent vision loss and blindness can result.
Symptoms and Detection
The first warning sign of glaucoma is usually higher-than-normal levels of pressure inside the eye. During a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will measure fluid pressure in your eyes using a test called applanation tonometry, wherein a small sensor makes contact with the surface of your eye. If the doctor detects elevated intraocular pressure, he or she can evaluate the optic nerve for signs of damage. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, the doctor will recommend how to proceed. Although glaucoma cannot be cured, it can be monitored and managed with medications, laser therapy or surgery.
Are There Any Glaucoma Risk Factors?
Glaucoma risk factors include the following:
- Being of African or Hispanic descent
- Being over the age of 60
- Pre-existing diabetes
- Pre-existing high blood pressure
- A family history of glaucoma
- A history of serious eye injury
Glaucoma Prevention and Treatment Options
Doctors do not yet know how to prevent glaucoma. Some risk factors, such as age and family history, are out of your control. But there may be things you can do to delay the onset of the disease.
Some studies suggest that eating a nutritious diet may protect the eyes against serious diseases like glaucoma. Green leafy vegetables, colorful fruits and fish are particularly eye-friendly foods.
Not smoking, consuming alcohol only in moderation and maintaining a healthy weight are also recommended. Though these behaviors may not completely protect you against eye disease, they certainly do not hurt.
The treatment options for managing glaucoma continue to advance. Some patients are able to control intraocular pressure through medicated eyedrops. Others undergo laser therapy to lower fluid levels inside the eye. New surgical techniques for glaucoma, known as “minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries,” involve microscopic instruments and quick recovery times. The treatment approach that is right for you will depend on the circumstances of your case and other factors such as your age and health status.
If you would like to learn more about detection and treatment of glaucoma, we invite you to schedule a personal consultation with an experienced ophthalmologist at our West Palm Beach or Jupiter office by contacting Mittleman Eye today.